Sunday, September 25, 2016

Voting for a third-party candidate

When Americans talk about "third parties" they do so in the context of a political culture that for a very long time has given so much importance to a competition between two major parties that voting for or founding or working for a "third" party has to be assumed to be futile. Except, of course, for those who hold idealistic or even utopian hopes that can't be realized by working through one of the two major parties.

I have a pretty wide idealistic streak myself, but I find myself extremely frustrated by what I consider the unrealistic appreciation of the possibilities of American politics on the part of so-called protest voters. And not just American politics. We are taught that elections decide policies. I think it in a large polity like United States or Canada that is seldom the case. At least you and I as individuals can't guarantee that our needs and wishes will be addressed in any sort of direct way. Far more often we are in the position of voting against catastrophe and I believe that has to be the top priority. It's not just a matter of this year, though the situation in the United States is a very dramatic illustration. When people whose intellect and goodwill I respect talk about voting for the Greens or the Libertarians because they like some aspects of their programs, I want to scream that "the top priority this year is avoiding catastrophe."

That they don't realize how crucial this is makes me wonder where such protest voters were in the year 2000 when protest voting was a important factor in the election of George W. Bush. Think of the environmental damage and the disastrous state of the Middle East that can be traced back to Bush rather than Gore being the president when important issues had to be decided. The entire human community has suffered great harm that will go on for centuries because of the results of that election. The protest voters --what did they get for their idealistic stand?

Image: You can always vote for the regular guy.

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